Friday, June 4, 2010

June 4

OT: 2 Sam. 22:21-23:23

In this continuation of David's psalm, he makes some interesting pronouncements:

"The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to my cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me. For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not done evil by turning from my God. All his laws are before me; I have not turned away from his decrees. I have been blameless before him and have kept myself from sin. The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to my cleanness in his sight" (21-25).

Hmmm...Is this the same David who had a city lie down, so that he could measure off and kill 2/3's of them? Who lied to Achish by pretending to be insane, and then later deceptively massacred his host's cities? The same David who committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed? The same David who had a whole collection of concubines, and who most assuredly did not teach his kids as they were walking along the road and as they lay down and got up? Is this the same David who let his daughter's rape by his son go unpunished? Who wanted to let another son's treason go unpunished? The Law, had he followed it, would have had them stoned for disrespecting their parent. Is this the same David who, out of anger at God, ditched the ark of the covenant at some guy's house for three months?

That David?

I don't want to throw a man's sins back in his face (though believe me, I could have probably kept going with that list), but those recollections of his earlier behavior makes this psalm just a bit delusional to me.

The ironic thing is, I do believe that verses 21 and 25 are somewhat true: The Lord did deal with David "according to his righteousness," and "according to the cleanness of his hands." In the latter part of his life, David reaped the consequences of his lax parenting quite dramatically (and it continues in later readings, with Adonijah). He had to fight down wave after wave of insurrection, deal with an insubordinate military leader, and even flee from his palace. Granted, God restored him, which probably does speak to the quality of David's heart...but God definitely did not give him a free ride. It seems like their were a lot of chickens coming home to roost during these later years.

Moving on. Greg loves the descriptions of David's mighty men, and he has always wondered what their reaction was when David poured out the water that they had risked their lives to get. Greg's theory is that they couldn't have been happy about that:).

Acts 2: 1-47

For some reason, reading Acts right after finishing the four Gospels helps to give me a better feel for the history involved. More than ever, I am aware of the gulf between Jesus' ascension and the start of "the church" at Pentecost. Not only do I find that brief time before the Spirit's arrival to be fascinating, I now read Peter's famous sermon with a fuller perspective. This is it; this is the launch party. Before Peter's instructions to his receptive listeners in verses 38-39, we have no idea what the new church is going to look like. How do you join? What do you do? Do you just meet with the disciples at their constant prayer meetings? Do you continue to challenge the power establishment, like Jesus did? Do you feed the poor? What?

After drawing liberally on OT prophecies to make his point (which is especially impressive when considering his lack of education), Peter articulates the way people can now follow Jesus: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call" (38-39). order to join this new movement, you must renounce your past sinfulness and turn your back on your sinful behavior. Then, you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, after which you, too, will receive the miraculous indwelling of the Spirit of God in your life. Cool.

So...what happened after that? What did the new church look like?

They did what the Apostles taught them to do. The hung out together, ate together, and prayed together. In short, they "were together" (44). They held everything in common. They sold their possessions in order that all of their followers might be provided for. They met together daily. (42-46)

And what was the result of these actions? "The Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved."

I can't help but read that and wonder, how many people does our church baptize in a year? Twenty, maybe? Perhaps if we were more like the early church, we would be more successful as members of God's kingdom. I don't know. Believe me, this isn't the first time I've considered this, and I understand the problematic nature of applying the practices of one society to a totally different society (although, I have to ask myself, "Were those practices common in that society? Or was the early church being radically counter-cultural even then?"). I'm just thinking aloud. If anyone has any further thoughts, feel free to share.

Psalm 122: 1-9

I feel bad b/c I've already laid into David in the OT, but I've gotta say, this psalm feels a little clunky from an artistic angle. "Jerusalem is built like a city that is closely compacted together"? (3). That's a bit prosaic for a psalm, don't you think?

It almost reads more like a straightforward recollection of an event, rather than a poem. And that event is the flocking of the people to Jerusalem to praise God, which makes the psalm a happy one.

Proverbs 16:19-20

Two proverbs praising humility in different ways.

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